This content is part of the Essential Guide: A comprehensive guide to enterprise IoT project success

IoT apps still sparse, but promising

There's strong evidence that the IoT is gaining acceptance -- but only on a limited basis because of cost and equipment compatibility concerns.

Everything evolves over time. Lately, it seems a lot of things have arrived at a place called the Internet. Thanks to advances in sensor technology, just about everything can now be connected to the Internet, allowing data from devices other than conventional computers to be collected and analyzed. This phenomenon is known as the Internet of Things (IoT), a phrase credited to British technologist Kevin Ashton from a presentation he gave in 1999.

But after more than 16 years, we're still hearing about the IoT's potential. "The IoT is a concept that is, in itself, transformational," reads a Gartner report from July 2015, "and it will take five to 10 years to gain mainstream adoption." Although many algorithms and tools can be applied to IoT apps, the report continues, it presents new challenges that require features typically not found in traditional analytics. With that in mind, mass use of IoT apps could well be a few more years away. In the December 2015 issue of Business Information, we take a look at IoT users and vendors that are getting a jump on this much-hyped technology.

In the cover story, executive editor Craig Stedman presents compelling evidence of real-world IoT apps and the benefits they're having in industries whose focuses range from automobiles to automation. It takes some doing. "We knew there was inherent value in [IoT] data," said Christopher Dell, senior director of product development and management at Intelligent Mechatronic Systems (IMS). "We just didn't know how to unlock that value." But they did.

So why aren't more businesses buying into the IoT? Like IMS, organizations looking to collect and analyze IoT data, writes Stedman, often find they first need to beef up their IT architectures with big data management technologies and advanced analytics tools.

Those investments don't necessarily have to be overwhelming. Some manufacturers may have to upgrade old equipment for new machines that accommodate the IoT, explains executive editor David Essex in another feature, but it may be possible to add connectivity to existing equipment in some cases. "It's shocking to me how many [IoT] things are not actually expensive," said FreeWire Technologies CEO Arcady Sosinov, "and how many very large industries can benefit from it and haven't thought about it."

Also in the issue, the Meeting Room feature describes how British Gas is updating its energy-use meters and dumping customization in favor of standardization. Our look at emerging technologies and concepts -- What's the Buzz? -- helps illustrate the meaning of data storytelling. And Hindsight reveals potential successors to some of Hadoop's core components.

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